Maintaining Your F-1 Status

As an F-1 student, you must comply with certain immigration laws governing your stay in this country. To maintain your legal status, you must follow the rules below. If you do not abide by these laws, the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider you "out of-status" and therefore in violation of the conditions of your F-1 immigration status. You will then have to apply for reinstatement and run the risk of being required to leave this country. In order to remain in status you must.

  • Maintain a full course of study during each semester (12 credit hours for undergraduate students; 8 credit hours for graduate students) at the school listed on the currently valid I-20 Form. Attend classes regularly and make satisfactory progress toward completion of your degree program.
  • Enroll in no more than 3 units of online courses per semester (Fall/Spring) to count towards your full-time requirement. Note: If you have left to take one class to graduate, this class must be an in-class traditional course to be in compliance with legal guidelines governing your F-1 status.
  • Make sure that any changes are appropriately listed on your I-20 (name, major, educational level, sources of funding).
  • Do not transfer schools without authorization. If you do transfer schools, make sure that your International Student Advisor transfers your SEVIS record prior to the start of classes at your current school.
  • Complete transfer-in process when you change institutions. This process must be completed within 15 days of starting classes at your new school. Remember! The transfer is not complete until you have registered for classes at the new school and received an I-20 confirming the completion of your transfer.
  • Do not accept unauthorized employment. All Off-campus employment must be pre-authorized by the USCIS, or an International Student Advisor in the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC).
  • If you work on campus, you may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session (Fall and Spring), and 21 or more during all breaks (Summer and Winter). USCIS considers every employment under 20 hours as part time, and every employment over 20 hours as full time.
  • Maintain a valid passport at all times. Make sure to renew your passport six months prior to the expiration date.
  • Do not travel outside the United States, even briefly without the proper documents. Remember to obtain a travel signature on your I-20 from the IESC.
  • Apply for and extension of your program if you can not complete the degree requirements by the 'end date' listed on your I-20.
  • If you move, report your new address to the USCIS within 10 days after you change it.
  • Always maintain medical, repatriation, and medical evacuation insurance.